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What questions should I ask my salespeople in a monthly review?
(Transcribed from podcast)
On today’s show, we’re talking about reviewing your monthly performance. You know, we’ve kicked off the year. We’re now into January—we’re into 2021. It’s important, this year, that every single month you take a look at your performance. Whether you’re the sales leader meeting with your salespeople, or whether you’re a salesperson just looking at your own performance, today we’re going to give you some questions that will help you gauge your performance, how well you’re performing. And so, today’s show: What questions should I ask my salespeople during our monthly review?
Before we get into that question, a quick shout-out to Andrea over at The Creative Impostor Studios. When you think about starting a podcast, it really begins with an idea. And the key is getting that idea into the actual podcast, getting the podcast launched, and bringing that idea into fruition. Well, Andrea can help you do that. Whether you’re thinking about starting a podcast right now, or whether you are on your way, or you have an idea for one and you’re ready to go, just reach out to Andrea and her team. They can help you. They can guide you. I promise you, it’s not as hard as it may sound. But you do have to get started. So, reach out to Andrea and her team. We’re going to have a link to her website on this episode’s webpage.
Also, pick up your latest edition of Value-Added Selling. The questions that I’m going to give you today align with the Value-Added Selling Process®. The Value-Added Selling Process® is a tried-and-true method that’s going to help you go out there and sell more profitably. You’re undoubtedly going to face price resistance this year. So, pick up your copy. It’s available at Amazon or wherever you get your books.
Let’s get back to the question: What questions should I ask my salespeople when we’re conducting a monthly performance review? Remember that a performance review—it should always begin with taking a look at the numbers and how your salesperson is performing relative to the numbers.
The reason we want to start with going through the numbers is that if they’re behind their number, it’ll help take the sting out of some of the feedback you’re going to generate during the actual performance review. So make sure that you start with the numbers—reviewing where they’re at. Now, if they are above where they need to be, that’s great. Now you can focus on how you can keep them on that same trajectory.
Here’s what you want to do. If I’m sitting down with a salesperson, here are eleven questions that you can ask that salesperson.
- The first thing you want to ask them is, “Are you chasing the right business?” Remember that there was a slice of the market that is just for your company. And you have to make sure that your salespeople are constantly pursuing opportunities that fit the profile for good business. So, ask your salesperson, “Hey, are you chasing the right business?” And if they believe they are, have them explain why they think it’s good business for your company.
- Ask them, “Hey, are you talking to all the right people within those opportunities?” Value-added sellers–they don’t talk to two or three salespeople, they’re talking to five or six or seven people that buy or influence the buying decision in each one of those opportunities. It’s critical that you help your salespeople understand that there’s more than just one or two people that make the decision. So again, that question is, “Are you talking to all the right people?”
- Next question. Ask them, “Hey, do you really know how your customers think within that opportunity? Do you know what they think: their thoughts, their desires, their fears, what concerns they might have?” Remember, to be a value-added seller, you really have to gain an in-depth understanding of your customer’s needs, wants, and fears. So, talk to your salespeople about that. Challenge them a little bit. Have them explain those needs, wants, concerns to you. And as they talk about, they’re going to understand, maybe there’s a little bit more they need to know.
- The next question you ask your team is, “What image have you created in their mind of our solution? How have you positioned our solution as the value-added solution for this opportunity? Have you been sharing content with them? Have you been sharing marketing information that supports what we’re claiming? Have you aligned our solution with how they define value?” Again, that’s about creating that image in the buyer’s mind.
- Next question you want to ask: How have you differentiated our solution? Differentiation remains a challenge, especially in those heavily commoditized industries where you’re facing a lot of price resistance. As the sales leader, you need to challenge them. Ask your salesperson, “What are our definable and defendable differences within this opportunity? How do we compare to what they’re using currently? Where do we stand out? How are we better? How are we different?” Asking those questions will force the buyer to think.
All right. We’re at the halfway point.
- Ask your salespeople, “So, can you really present a compelling reason for this customer to choose our alternative? And if they say yes, say “Great. Okay. What is it?” Have them share it with you. Role-play a little bit. Discuss it. Offer some feedback—some ideas on what else you can incorporate.
Okay, next question you want to ask them (and this is now when we get into the more defensive selling phase). Let’s say you have a group of salespeople that are working on existing opportunities or opportunities that they have recently closed the deal and now they’re moving through that transition phase. So, here are some questions for those types of opportunities.
- How painless are you making it for this customer to buy our alternative? You know, our research shows that customers want a smooth and seamless transition. And if the salesperson can help them achieve that, they’re going to be more open to partnering with you in the future. So have a discussion around that.
- Next question. How is your personal and professional relationship with your customer? This question can create a relationship-building opportunity. It opens up the door to discuss ideas on how you can further build that relationship. So, get your salesperson’s feedback. Discuss some ideas to further build that relationship.
Now, these next questions, these questions are for those customers that have been—they’ve been partnered with us for years. These are our best customers; they are our most profitable customers. They’re easy to work with. Remember that these best customers are also our competitor’s best prospects. Your salespeople should be focused on protecting some of these customer relationships. These questions refer to those types of customers.
- The first question we want to ask about is how they’re creating more value. So, here’s what I would ask a salesperson. If we’re, if we’re going through some of their existing customers, I would say “So, are you working as hard to keep the business as you did to get the business?” Use that question to generate a discussion around all the ways they could be creating value. Discuss some ideas on how they can enhance or improve, or even create a better solution for the customer that they’ve been working with. Remember, if you’re working just as hard to keep that business, as you did to get the business, you’re going to effectively block out the competition.
- Next question you can ask, “Hey, are we getting all the credit we deserve?” For those best customers, you’re willing to jump through hoops for them. You’ll bend over backwards twice just to make sure that they are satisfied. The key is you kind of get credit for the value that you deliver. As most people are unaware of the air they breathe, most customers are unaware of the value they receive. So, ask your salespeople what they’re doing: “What are you doing to remind the customer the value that we deliver?”
- And the final question for those existing customers—your best partners—ask your salespeople, “Are we getting all the business we should be getting?” There are always opportunities up for grabs within the customer’s business. The key is finding it. The key is becoming like an investigative journalist where we’re going in department after department meeting with different people, asking questions, uncovering leads, tracking them down. That’s how we have to approach our existing customers. And so, when you’re talking with your salespeople, ask them, “Hey, are we getting all the business we should be getting? What do you need for me to help you to go after some of these other opportunities? How can I better support you?” Have the discussion.
So, those are the eleven questions. Now, again, those first six questions we went through—those questions are really geared towards going after a growth opportunity. It could be a new prospect or an existing customer that has a lot of upside potential.
Questions 7 and 8: those questions were really about supporting the customer through the transition.
And then the last few questions—questions 9, 10, and 11—these questions are geared towards our existing customers, our best customers, and how we can continue to grow them.
Now a couple of thoughts. When you’re asking your salespeople these questions, you can tweak them a little bit. Make them your own. Make them a little conversational. The key is we want to use these questions the same way we use questions when we’re selling. We use questions to generate a good discussion and open information exchange. And if you’re not convinced that your salespeople are selling the right way, now you have the information so that you can take some action.
Make it a big day.